Growing up in Wixom, Michigan half-way between Ann Arbor and Detroit, Stephanie Duda grew up not food-focused or overweight. But when she started getting involved in sports, especially competitive swimming, she started getting body-focused as she entered sports.
She explains, “I started comparing my body to girls around me and I would compare my body to those on TV shows like MTV and different movies. I felt like I needed to have a better body. So I researched how to lose weight and began studying nutrients and calories. Then I found I could control the number of calories going into my body and the calories I burned by running and lifting weights. This began a daily ritual of counting calories in my head. I knew the amount of calories in everything, and if I didn’t, I would look it up and keep a running total on paper or in my head.”
Stephanie quit sports her senior year and decided to run and lift weights on her own. It was all about a “fitness” focus and perfecting her body. “I was always thinking about food and noticed that I even thought about food in church. I thought this was what God wanted.”
This spiraled into major anger and fear if she did not get to work out or get certain “low calorie, high nutrient” foods. Stephanie’s family and friends noticed her obsession and disapproved. They noticed how thin she was getting and felt she did not look healthy. She says, “I did not care what they thought. I thought this was what I needed to do to maintain a certain body type. This was my way of being righteous.”
But with all the exercise, Stephanie got a stress fracture in her right foot. “I could no longer workout which was devastating. I feel that this was God’s way of getting my attention and possibly preparing me for what was to come next.”
At just 16-years of age, Stephanie’s brother committed suicide. “I was in deep pain and had nothing real to turn to that would comfort me. I could no longer keep up my daily workouts and controlling diet. I ran to food for comfort and began gaining weight. I began wondering about the after-life and was desperate for answers to life. I wanted God in my life and I wanted to do the right thing, but I didn’t know what pleased God. I knew very few people who were doing the will of God and living right all the time.
“My mom was given a book of scriptures and comforting words for mourning parents. I read it and found a verse in Romans about not having sin. I was convicted and reached out to many people about if I was doing the right things in life. Everyone said I was fine. I ended up breaking up with my boyfriend Ed because I felt God was telling me he was an idol for me. We got back together once we decided to be pure before marriage, and God allowed me to marry Ed.”
Shortly after marriage, Stephanie did not feel satisfied. “I still had a gaping whole in my heart. I cried out to God for a week in October of 2013. I found Weigh Down through a Google search. I searched for ‘Christian Weight Loss Blogs’ because I felt desperately out of control with my eating and I wanted to have self-control. As a newlywed, I wanted to put God first in my marriage.”
God led Stephanie to a woman’s blog who testified about losing all her weight and gaining a closer relationship with God through Weigh Down. She knew her former controlling methods were not successful, because they did not give her the satisfaction she was truly looking for. She needed to learn the boundaries of hunger and fullness through connecting to a loving and personal God.
“I began with the Weigh Down Basics class and loved the truth being taught. I realized man-made rituals were only making me more angry, and God’s ways were amazing and fruitful. I progressed to The History of the One True God class and the Weigh Down Advanced class. Each class provided more heart information that helped me look inward to change myself to be more Christ-like. My life changed as I learned how to please my husband at home and bosses at work. I was happier and appreciating God’s creation for the first time in my life.”
Through putting into practice the principles of Weigh Down, the Bible made sense and lined up with how to be a Christian and have the fruits of the Spirit. She felt peace with God and was not anxious about the little things in her life. She started to pray and talk to God all the time and wait on Him for her needs and desires.
She learned to eat regular foods, within the boundaries of hunger and fullness, instead of running to food out of boredom. Stephanie lost 30 lbs total and felt energized and not overly tired anymore. She continue to take Weigh Down classes and listen to All Access because these help her stay focused on her true food – doing the will of the Father. “I feel so full of love for God now, instead of love for food and I want to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength for the rest of my life!”
Living in Arizona at that time, Ed and Stephanie wanted to be closer to their church – Remnant Fellowship, which was started by Weigh Down founder Gwen Shamblin. “We wanted to be a part of the body, this church that has the kindest, most royal authority from heaven. I cannot believe God has showed me the true remnant of our One True God!”
In addition, her marriage has changed drastically. “I let go of my ways and let the Holy Spirit direct Ed and our family and it is beautiful! Ed is such a loving and strong leader. He tells me the truth gently and knows how to lead because of all the other godly men at church and the teachings of Mrs. Gwen and her interpretations of the Bible for Godly households.”
Stephanie is an elementary school teacher in the Williamson County School System and her career is amazing because of these teachings. “Before this teaching, I was trying to get my students to like me and the roles were backwards. I now have a precise direction for my day because of putting my authorities first and making sure their requests are carried before my own. My days are no longer filled with the victim mentality, ‘I deserve’. There are no attitudes or gossip or complaining because I am focused on making God look good and pleasing Him through all of my interactions.
“I am a better teacher because I truly love and care for each child, co-worker and boss deeply from the heart as we are taught at Remnant Fellowship. It must be a love from Heaven that I get to feel because it does not waver. I can feel the overflow of love for others and desire to be salt to them at all hours of the day. I set the boundaries in my classroom that are ultimately from God and this is all for the good for my students.” In addition, Stephanie spent her summer volunteering and showing God’s love as a camp counselor for the Remnant Summer Day Camp.
You too can have a life like Stephanie’s by getting Gwen Shamblin’s NEW book “God-Fearing Families“ and watching the fundamentals on this episode of The You Can Overcome Show: